“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”
– 2 Samuel 6:14-15
In our lifetime, we have many teachers, and some of them come in the most interesting, and unlikely disguises.
A couple of years ago I met Gerardo Sanchez at his studio in Santa Rosa, CA. Though meeting briefly only once, he didn’t hesitate when I asked him to come and volunteer to teach some Bollywood dances at our fundraiser to bring clean water to India. Gerardo is one of those people I felt I knew, even before shaking hands with him for the first time. You know the type… the one who makes you cock your head, narrow your eyes, and wrack your brain because you can’t seem to place them, but know you’ve met before? These are the people that are instant friends; neighbors; brothers; sisters.
His part of the event was incredibly successful, and most of our 500 attendees told me later, he was the highlight, and if I decided to do “Bollywood H2O” again, I should definitely bring him back. So, you see, he’s a naturally popular guy. But there’s something more than charisma that makes people want to be around him, and I’ve narrowed it down to Agape Love. His actions are based on Love, and you know it the minute you meet him. He’s got passion that is visible, and it’s evident in the life he leads. Passion for children, and to get them off the couch, and moving. Passion for his family, and being a participatory husband and father. Passion for people, and doing his part in helping them achieve a better, healthy life. Passion for his community, and playing whatever role he can to improve it with the talents God has placed in him.
Passion to contribute.
If I mention his name, people immediately smile, and say something nice. Not just about his class, or dance/martial arts abilities, but about his character. So that’s Gerardo. He’s all goodness, and through witnessing his lovely family in action, I can testify he is a great example of one who produces good fruit.
A few months ago I decided to try out his UJAM class. If you don’t know UJAM, picture Zumba, but with more hip hop, bollywood, and latin dance moves. If you don’t know Zumba, imagine whatever cardio program you do know, and put it on steroids. Then add modern choreography. Intimidating already, isn’t it.
I’ll be first to tell you, I am a pathetic dancer. It’s never been my thing. My mother and sister’s all “got it”, and apparently, they received my share as well. After many years of Kenpo Karate, and 4+ torturous years experience with a very rigid violin teacher, I tend to focus a great deal on form. Form. Form. Form. It’s all about form. So, I’ve always been the one saying “no no no” when someone tries to pull me onto the dance floor. “I’m terrible. You don’t want me out there, really, it’s bad, I don’t dance. I’ll just embarrass us both”, as I back away. “Bad form. Bad form.”
So, I’m still wondering how it happened, especially since the music is so far outside of my usual playlist, but I started this class with Gerardo, and just kept my eyes on him, the teacher, trying my best to follow along. I tripped over my own feet, and he’d smile or laugh from the stage, ultimately make some crazy animal sound, and instantly I would feel a little bit better, and encouraged to keep moving. I studied his perfectly executed moves from the floor, and tried not to look in the mirror so I could secretly imagine that I looked like that too. Then maybe he would bust a move too early or with the opposite leg, or decide to add a spin where I wasn’t used to spinning, and I’d stand there not knowing what to do. Yet I saw many others didn’t miss a beat. They had already learned the moves, and weren’t relying on him for the basics anymore. He’d laugh, and we’d all laugh, and just keep moving. Then, regardless of anyone’s ability or experience, he would do the unthinkable. He’d call us onstage. For me, (after the initial mortification) this built a certain level of confidence, as well as community with the others in the room. Dancing face to face, smile to smile. Every so often Gerardo would just leave the stage… maybe to adjust the sound, teach from the floor, or leave the room altogether.
But the dancing continued.
I realize I’ve learned, and confirmed a lot about leadership, and discipleship from Gerardo, and it was all wrapped up in a funky little UJAM bow. The last place I would look. So here are the top ten.
Teachers are Valuable.
Without teachers, we flounder, we give it our best guess, or worst of all, tell ourselves “we can’t” or “we shouldn’t”. But a good teacher will remind us that we can, we should, and show us how. They will call you up on stage, and sometimes leave you there while they disappear. At their best moment’s, the music is heard, the people are dancing, and the stage is empty.
Teacher’s are Fallible.
No matter how amazing they are, and how well they know the dance, they will at times misstep. Trust solely in them, and you’ll make the exact same mistakes. When uncertain, we can always go back to the basic’s we’ve been taught.
How we choose to recover from our mistakes is an important trait. Do we laugh it off? Admit it and move on? Do we get angry with ourselves? Quit? Put ourselves down? Or worse, do we shift the blame to those dancing alongside us?
Spending my time looking at those around me, comparing my dance to theirs, my steps get messed up as I start to try to imitate their steps. Suddenly my dance isn’t recognizable as mine anymore. It’s just a jacked up version of theirs.
Don’t take myself, or other’s view of me so seriously. David’s joy didn’t come from dancing; David’s dancing was in response to the joy of the Lord! By focusing too much on the dance’s form, and what I think it should look like to others… I lose the joy.
If all I do is watch myself dance in the mirror, wondering how I look (to myself or others), then my focus is on me, with a critical eye. I’ve taken my eyes off The Prize. But when I close my eyes in trust, knowing the basics, and move in the direction of the music, there is freedom.
Some People Just Have More Groove
Just because somebody else is dancing differently than I doesn’t mean they’re not dancing well, or that they’re dancing better. Maybe they’re more experienced. Maybe their beat is different, and maybe their tune takes them in another direction. Maybe it is a little bit slower, or maybe it’s a little bit faster, with some fancy moves. Maybe it paused so that they (or I) can rest for a minute, in His Presence, until they (or I) can hear the music again. Their dance is not wrong, better, or worse. It is perfectly, uniquely theirs. So is mine.
Being Critical of Another Dancer is Toxic, and Contagious.
In order to dance together, it is imperative that I follow to the beat given me, and allow (and encourage) others to do the same. Just as gossip spreads like gangrene, so does negativity. It sometimes takes just one discouraging, or ugly word to get someone to turn away, and stop dancing.
Talents and Gifts Vary
People are beginners, advanced students, and all in between. There are people who seem to already know all the moves, and those who don’t, but we can still dance together in harmony. The same dance for the Glory of the same King.
Remember the Basics
When you don’t know what to do, remember the basic steps you’ve been taught. Be still, pray, wait, listen until you can hear the music again… feel the rhythm, and move your feet. If your teacher’s have been good one’s, they’ve always pointed you to the Great Leader anyway.
To sum it up:
Good leader’s encourage individual walks; to teach, you must often leave the stage; learning is continuous; people are fallible; Jesus is perfect; missteps are inevitable; everybody has their own abilities; discouragement kills; anyone can dance; music is good; and God is not signed to a record label.
Now get out there, and when the joy of the Lord come’s upon your heart, dance like David danced.